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Love of high-adventure camps leads to service at Doe River Gorge

‘It is not that I fit in, it is who I am’

By Ashley Rader
Elizabethon Star

Photo by Brandon Hicks
Joshua Hubbard has been a full-time missionary at Doe River Gorge for six years. He is pictured with his wife, Janna, and daughters Paisley and Skyla. He worked at Camp Tuk-A-Way in Blacksburg, Va., for three years before coming to Doe River Gorge.

A lifelong involvement in the church and a love of high adventure camps are what led Joshua Hubbard to become a full-time missionary at Doe River Gorge.

Hubbard has been in the church since he was a young child and started attending high adventure camps, like Doe River Gorge, when he was 15. He worked at Camp Tuk-A-Way in Blacksburg, Va., for three years before coming to Doe River Gorge.

“I had fallen in love with that ministry,” Hubbard said. “It is just a part of me now. It is not that I fit in, it is who I am. Doors have closed and opened.”

Hubbard met his wife Janna at Camp Tuk-A-Way. Six years ago, she received an internship through Milligan College that placed her at Doe River Gorge, and the couple moved to Carter County.

“This is where she came, and that is how I got the opportunity to fall in love with this place,” Hubbard said. “I didn’t even know about Doe River Gorge until then.”

When he first came to Doe River Gorge with his wife, Hubbard said he was hesitant to be a part of the camp. He said it was just his “flesh” that was looking for negatives about the experience, but as he started to spend more time with the people and at the camp, the more he grew to love the camp and what the ministry was.

“The people, the heart and the mission, just lines right up with my lifelong passion,” he said. “I love service. I really believe that I was meant to be in service, and I can’t see myself outside of full-time service. I just want to do it. Every waking moment, I want to spend serving the Lord. I used to work in construction between camps. It just didn’t cut it. There was plenty of money, but it just didn’t cut it. I would rather have less money and have fulfillment than more money and be searching for something I don’t have.”

Hubbard first started working at Doe River Gorge in the logistics department. He said that means he worked behind the scenes to keep the camp running smoothly. He is now program logistics coordinator and also serves as lake front director, life guard instructor and range safety officer. He also works with the groups during team-building activities and games and is weekend host.

“I have many faces in the ministry,” Hubbard said. “I initially started doing logistics. Basically, I know what it takes to make the place run, from top to bottom. I’m now in a soft-skill position, to be more hands-on with people instead of the operations side of it.”

Hubbard said he enjoys the high adventure activities at Doe River Gorge because of the adrenaline factor. His favorite activity at the camp is river tubing. Because Doe River is a natural-flowing river with no dam to control water levels, Hubbard said rafting on it is a constantly changing experience.

“You never know what is coming,” he said. “It is always changing and exciting and new. It is an all-natural river, and rainfall controls it. It can change per minute. It is exciting.”

Hubbard is happy to be serving God at Doe River Gorge. He said he enjoys working with the staff and the campers that visit the ministry. He noted that with missionary work, the call to serve can change over time.

“I definitely think God has called me here for a while,” Hubbard said. “I believe in mission work there is always a platform of service. Once you start, He calls you to keep going and wherever that is, you are going. If it is here, then it is here, but if it is Cambodia or China, then it is there. I am going to go where He calls me and where I can be more active for him and be a tool for Him. My heart is not Doe River, my heart is service to the Lord and it is wherever he wants me to serve. Doe River is a place, and my heart is not in a place. It is in service to Him.”

Hubbard and his wife Janna have two daughters; Paisley, who is 2-1/2 years old, and Skyla, who is 3 months old.

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MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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